What $15 USD Per Night Can Get You Around The World

4:23 AM Jmo 0 Comments

"But, how do you pay for it all?"

      This is a question that often faces young, long-term travelers with returning home; chatting to friends and family alike.  And the answer is... Well, you'll be surprised what your USD (United States Dollar) can get you in some countries.  
     Sure I've worked abroad and saved a decent amount while doing so, but the real key to keeping a padded travel wallet is to travel and stay within your means. And actually, staying is the easiest part; especially if you plan on backpacking your way through South East Asia! It's incredible how far your money can get you! 
     I'm an advocate for "budget travel" because I believe that everyone should be able to make their travel dreams a reality.  Money can be spent out doing rather than caught up in a hotel you're more than likely only going to drop your bags off at! 
     So, without further ado, here's a short list of what $15USD or less can get you, accommodation-wise, in some of my personal, top travel destinations.  Happy staying~!
*Key: ABA = Average Budget Accommodation Price
          (1-5)   = Value for Price

ABA:  $10 USD/per night,  (5)
The beautiful streets of Hoi An, Vietnam.

     SouthEast Asia is a budget backpackers dream come true. I was blown away with what I was getting for my money in SEA, but Vietnam in particular... wow!
     Most "youth hostels" run from $5-$10 per night depending on the city you're staying in. And, I know what you may be thinking... 
$5?! Yahh, no thanks. I'd like to sleep sans-bed bugs, thanks! 
     But, let me tell you... I've yet to have better hostel experiences than I had while traveling in Vietnam. 
     Vietnam specializes in 'boutique' hostel experiences. This means that, more than likely, your $5USD will secure you not only a nice, comfortable, clean bed (with air conditioning!) but also a hearty breakfast bar or served breakfast in the morning, which is included in your fee. I traveled from one end of Vietnam to the other and I can tell you that this above and beyond service is the norm.       Ohh, and did I mention that most hostels also have a pool?  Yahh. Spoiled on $5USD a night.
**Tip! If you plan on staying in Hanoi, I highly recommend staying at Little Hanoi Hostel. The staff was incredibly helpful and friendly.
 I can't even begin to explain. Lovely people! 
ABA: $12 USD/per night, (5)
The balcony off our room in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

     My first jaunt in Cambodia I was unsure of what to expect.  But, I immediately fell in love with this place and have returned since to explore, indulge, and bask in the beauty of Angkor and more.
     Through all my time in Cambodia, I've yet to find a hotel or hostel that didn't do anything but exceed my expectations.  I've been privileged enough to stay at all ends of the accommodation spectrum in Cambodia.  I've stuck to a hostel budget of $5 a night at  The White Rabbit in the capital city of Phnom Penh, wild-awayed sunsets and sunrises in a treehouse bungalow on Koh Rong Island,  and have made my way up the ladder to splurge at the Rambutan Resort.  Now, not all accommodation falls below the $15USD budget, but I've chosen to slip in the above photo of The Golden Temple Villa in Siem Reap at a price of $17USD per night.  (That's right. A private, tropical balcony for $17USD)
     This place is so nice, I've stayed here twice! The rooms are beautiful, comfortable, privates only  (no dorms here)  and definitely luxurious by any backpacker-sense. They even leave little orchid petals on your bed! And, upon arrival, provide you with a "welcome drink" and snack. 
     If I ever go back to Siem Reap,  for the third time, I guarantee you I'll be staying here again.  If not for the room... definitely the restaurant in the lobby downstairs!

South Africa
ABA: $15 USD/per night, (4.25)
Savannah Dry anyone?

     Initially, since South Africa is extremely "Westernized", I thought I'd be paying American or European prices for any sort of budget accommodation and, as a result, would have to penny-pinch my way through the country. 
Thankfully!, this is not so.
     South African accommodation can range from the quaint and budget friendly to the exclusive Cape Town resort. But, let me tell you, the "quaint and budget friendly" digs do not disappoint! I'm actually blown away by what you can get on the cheap here in South Africa.  Bed and breakfasts abound, private chalets are extremely affordable for traveling couples, and the attention to detail and care given by most staff is bar-none. 
     We just got back from an epic, bucket-list checking, adventure to the Kruger National Park to roam amongst the lions (no big deal) and came back with more than enough cash for the next adventure.  
     We stayed at Kruger Inn Backpackers and booked a private room, with a private bathroom, for $15USD per night.  The location was serene (located inside Marloth Park) and was open to the creatures inhabiting the surrounding areas.  Giraffe, wildebeest, and zebra were seen in and around the inn and this was truly worth the booking alone.  
     There was a full communal kitchen with fridge and freezer, a comfy outdoor lounge, an outdoor mini bar, braai and picnic areas. What more could you need?  (Anything close to this level of facilities in The States would easily cost $60-$80 per night. Easy.)  
     All this and the staff was a beautifully-friendly older couple who you could tell absolutely loved their "home".  I'm already planning my return trip!

Beijing, China
ABA: $10 USD/per night, (3.75)
Entrance to the Forbidden City, Beijing

     I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of budget-accommodation in Beijing. We'd just left Hong Kong and our pockets were crying out for some relief from mega-city prices. And, I was still dusting off the ants I'd acquired from my Causeway Bay hostel bed.
     Since Beijing is a powerhouse mega-city like Hong Kong, we feared the worst. But! Thank goodness China knows how to package their tourism into little, manageable, and affordable pockets...

     Mixed bedroom dorms will run you approximately $10USD per night and are pretty bare bones, but!, supply you with all the information you need to make the most out of Beijing.  I was only in Beijing for a few days, but my research into where to stay proved that this price and service is the norm.  Beijing in general was surprisingly cheap!  Food, subway, tourist activities, even an excursion out to The Great Wall is all feasible on a tight, backpacker budget.  Beijing is really trying to put its best foot forward in terms of foreign visitors.

ABA: $15 USD/per night, (3.75)
Jail cell? Or hostel dorm room?
Cairns, Australia
     I know. Encouraging photo, right?  Well, Australia is crazy expensive. But, luckily, they have a healthy and active youth-backpacker culture that fosters essential, bare minimum, you make it what you want it to be accommodation. That dorm room pictured above (and many more like it) are God-sends when you're spending your life's savings on everything else.
     A safe, clean, young, party hostel (mixed dorm room) can run on average between $10-$20USD. Even in cities such as Sydney or Melbourne you can expect to pay exceptionally reasonable prices. I haven't quite figured out why this is... considering in Sydney we payed $4USD for a bottle of water!  Perhaps the large quantity of traveling workers, WOOFers, or gap-year studnets that come through Australia has something to do with it?  Whatever the reason, I'm glad it is so!
     In Australia, you definitely get what you pay for in terms of cheap accommodation. But, honestly, are you going to be spending that much time in your dorm room anyhow? No.  Not when there are kangaroos to chase and koalas to cuddle!
Koala tax to make up for the horrible hostel photo...hehe


Budget Busters:
The destinations are great, but be sure to set aside some extra cash to rest your head. Here are a few destinations that proved to be surprising in the "budget" department.

United States of America
ABA: $40 USD/per night, (2.75)
The river runs green in Chicago on St. Patrick's Day!

     Unless you're camping, I fear in order to chase the Great American Road-Trip Dream... you need a decent amount of cash at your disposal.  Hostels are pricey in my home country! Dang!
     Budget accommodation in Chicago is $30USD per night at the cheapest, in San Francisco a dorm room can set you back $45 per night (!), and if you're eyes are set on The Big Apple, a hostel dorm in New York City can cost a whopping $55 per night!  ~And, I've stayed in a budget place adjacent to Times Square...  Trust me...I say, pay a little extra and skip the flea-bath post checkout.
And let's be real... free breakfast? Forget about it.  

Toto, we're not in South East Asia anymore...
ABA: $25 USD/per night, (4)
A beautiful 1920s home converted into a hostel.
Gion, Geisha District, Kyoto, Japan

     Now, here's an instance where shelling out a little more cash doesn't bother me as much.  Japanese architecture is stunning.  So, paying a little bit more for a place to stay is essentially paying for the view. Right?

     Hostels in Japan (Kyoto, Tokyo, Okinawa) can average $20USD- $45USD. But you can expect to pay a little more anyhow in Japan for food and transportation, so it's obvious that accommodation should follow suite. 
     And, Japanese culture values their privacy so don't fear staying in a dorm room. Dorm rooms in Japan usually come with either a divider, a curtain, or you're own little pod!  So, you're almost paying for a "private" bed? Kinda?
     I also found Japanese hostels to be extremely well-managed, friendly, and quiet. Overall, worth the price I'd say.

South Korea:
ABA: $20 USD/per night, (2.50)
Detail of Gyeongbuk-gung Palace, Seoul

     Just like Japan, you may be in Asia... but definitely not SouthEast Asia! 

     I lived in South Korea a little over two years and weekend trips to Seoul, Busan, or elsewhere was a regular routine. Transportation was easy and cheap enough but the hostels of South Korea left much to be desired.
     Dorm room hostels in the hustle and bustle of Seoul can run anywhere from $15-$30USD.  And that's providing a bed with little else. Some hostels provide "breakfast", AKA a few slices of bread. Consider yourself a King if your bread happens to come with some peanut butter. 

     If you live and travel in South Korea it's fine. But if you're a first timer or vacationer, budget accommodation in Korea will definitely be a turn-off. 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
ABA: $15 USD/per night, (2)
View from my hostel in Kuala Lumpur.

     I know, I know... I bash Kuala Lumpur a lot. But, it deserves it...  I'm sorry.
     Dorm rooms range from $7-$20USD per night.  I know, this sounds like it should be a steal.  But, be careful. You're going to want to pay a little more to stay in a nicer area with good security, and it wouldn't hurt to stay close to the sights you want to see.
     Kuala Lumpur claims to be a part of the SouthEast Asia backpacker scene, but from what I could see ...it's far from that. There's not much to do out in the city, (especially at night since alcohol is expensive here and safety is a concern) so you might spend a decent amount of time in your hostel planning your next move.  Choose wisely.  And move on ASAP!
Scotland, UK:
ABA: $35 USD/per night, (4)
Scotland, in all her beauty.

     Ahh, I could live in Scotland.  And maybe I should because paying per night is a killer!  Budget accommodation (hostels and bed and breakfasts) run around $45 per night in Scotland's major cities. But, dare I say, it's worth it?
     Scotland knows how to do hospitality. And if you're staying at a bed and breakfast, I can almost guarantee a lovely meal to be served by a lovely old woman who wants nothing more than to see you full, happy, and bundled up for the road ahead.

     Now, why isn't mainland Europe on here?  
Because I haven't been there yet, silly!  Yet.

If you have any budget-travel recommendations for me as I plan my Euro-Trip, post them in the comments section below, or, feel free to tweet me at HeyyItsJmo. I'd love to hear from your experiences!

Find them DEALS!:
     When searching for my next place to rest my head, I typically start by browsing HostelWorld.com or Booking.com.  Hostel World reviews are great and the booking system is easy, reliable, and has yet to let me down. I'd say I use Hostel World the most often. But! If I'm looking to splurge and grab a great deal, I use my membership points on Booking.com. 
     I scored an incredible, pent-house style, single room, (with a bathtub on our balcony!!) at the Rambutan Resort, Phnom Penh for around $40USD.  I was able to get this deal using my membership discount of %40 and with some good timing and email promotion scouting at the time of booking.  That was my biggest accommodation score to date!  What a rushhh~

Hope this helps! Happy staying!
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